Creative Conversations 04; Meet Vivi Feng

NewsApr 12, 2022
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Join us on our journey to unite elmwood talent and those we admire in one-to-one chats spanning everything and anything creative in our series, Creative Conversations.

The interview below takes place between NY Creative Director Krista Oraa and Illustrator and Motion Designer Vivi Feng.

When I first met Vivi almost 8 years ago, I could tell right away she was someone to watch. Having the pleasure to work with Vivi on everything from animation to identity work – she’s quick, talented, nimble and adaptive. She is not afraid to take risks or challenge the status quo. It’s been a pleasure to watch her grow personally and professionally over the years.

How did you initially get into illustration and motion design?

Growing up with Japanese anima probably! From a very young age I started to draw anima characters and happened to find that I’m not too bad at it. Even though I no longer watch them often, it sparked my interest early on.

You’re based in Melbourne – what is the design and illustration environment out there like?

Even from the time I worked in the US, designs from Australia always ended up in my inspiration folders. Studios here are smaller and clients are more local, but the standard is high. Melbourne has so many amazing illustrators too, a great number of whom work with clients globally.

Where do you feel most inspired?

I love watching movies. Stories big and small, fiction or documentary, are a great source of inspiration for me. Daydreaming is also a great place for me to be, to relax, stop the hustle, think of some funny thoughts that may be popping through.

Is there a motion designer or artist you admire in particular?

There are so many talents in the industry, and I can give you a long list if I name everyone. But if I only had to name one, it would be David O’Reilly. I love the sensitive quirkiness overflown from his work, and his art format can be anything that’s relevant.

You work as a freelancer on projects based all around the world – what does a typical day for you look like?

I do have an active toddler who is always sick! I use all my other time that is not taking care of her, to work on my projects. It could be at night, or during her nap, or when she goes to daycare. Whenever I can get stuff done! Luckily it sometimes works for clients in different time zones!

With an active toddler running around at home, how do you find time to balance work and life?

I still struggle a lot to balance work and life, especially working from home as a freelancer, these two easily merge into one. I’m trying to be clear with clients about my situation so I set a reasonable timeline for each project I take on, or if there’s some work emergency, I communicate with my husband so he can be prepared to take over.

Sometimes preparation works, but there are times that you just need to roll with the situation and accept that plans don’t work all the time!

As both a female motion designer and working mother, what type of “industry” hurdles have you encountered in your career?

I’m still adjusting to be a working mother even if it’s already been the case for 2 years. To me, it feels like the biggest obstacle in a career path is not gender difference but having a kid. No matter if it’s a mother or father who take the major caregiving task, there is a sacrifice element of the energy going from work back to the family, and unfortunately most of the time this task falls on women.

In my own experience, I can clearly see that since having a kid, I can’t afford to stay up all night working on low pay and tight deadline jobs anymore. It is a personal choice but a reflection of limited energy and time after having a kid. Rather than going to an industry event on a Friday night, I’d rather catch some extra hours of sleep.

In your opinion, what has changed in the industry to be more inclusive?

By talking about the issues. Even not too long ago, the mentality of working hard and never complaining was praised. But without pointing out the injustice, the privileged party won’t realize that they are privileged!

Working in the US and now in Australia, other than time zones, have you noticed any major differences in the way you approach the work?

Australia is more chill for sure, people really respect the outside work life and holidays are long. For example, Christmas break here can stretch up to 3-4 weeks! Also because of the government’s support, maternity leave is normally up to one year, and the partner also gets 3 weeks at least reimbursed from the government. It should really be the norm!

You recently partnered with elmwood for GSK’s Preparation H brand – how did that relationship evolve?

I worked with Krista when we were both in S+G, and since I moved to Australia we kept in touch. She had me work on a few projects with motion design, but this is our first time working together on an illustration project! It’s so much fun to draw many many butts, probably my favorite part of the human body to draw!

What do you feel is aesthetically distinctive about your work? Is there something that you feel defines your illustrative style?

I like drawing sexy stuff in a not sexy way if that makes sense. Also, I like humor in illustrations, so I’m trying to do that any way that I can.

Your character illustrations are stunning – what does the process look like from concept to final design in creating these?

Thank you so much! I normally have some murky ideas in my head when I get the brief, then I’ll doodle randomly aiming to capture that idea. Most of the times I need help from Google for some realistic reference. When I have a couple of good doodles I will move to, depending on the project, either my iPad with procreate, or the computer with Illustrator to create the illustration digitally.

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